Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Empiricist Claim

Last night, I was fortunate to lead the discussion.
I had tried to tackle the question, why we are the Austrian Knights and not the Smithian Souls.

The debate Austrians find themselves with mainstream economists is not over economics persay but a philosophical debate.

I am curious if when reading blog posts such as this one that claim Austrians don't like empirical data, do you get the same sense as I do? That this is not a debate over economics but of a philosophical nature that has long been in discussions.
Found an easy to follow Philosophy Forum on Kant vs Hume.

How can we best argue in this debate?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Austrian Knights to Smithian Souls

Tonight, Dan Klein had lead the discussion at the weekly Austrian Knights event.

The main point, at least as I took it, is the need for students to study Adam Smith.
Adam Smith had begun with the Theory of Moral Sentiments. It is important to note that it is the questions of morality that Adam Smith begin with, but to say that if other economists do not begin with such questions, they are not doing economics is rather short.

Economics is not the study of morals. We can not measure morals. It is only individual's making choices according to their preferences that help reveal the morality of the individual. This is not something that should be taken lightly. Morality and the study of ethics is a great assistance in learning about liberty, but they are not able to discuss economics. Economics defined famously by Lionel Robbins is "the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses." This is not the study of morals on society. Only value that an economist can use in their studies is that of price which unveils a load of information for that period of time.

In the study of liberty, morality is essential as it answers many questions allowing each of us to comprehend why we strive so hard towards it. Communism attacks religion for the very reason that morality denies that government intervention is a worthwhile policy.

Let us take from this event that we can not use morality to argue on economics, but we can and should study morality to discuss liberty. Read your SMITH!